We can all read the form guide.  We can all see the League table and the P20 W5 D4 L11 Pts 19 statistics.  We have not won in the league in nine attempts.  In addition, we are woeful in front of goal, 19 goals in 20 games.  What a time to be a Newcastle Fan.

Statistically, Steve Bruce is not a bad manager; he is a bad Premier League manager.  His PL career win percentage is 28.  His Newcastle career win percentage is 27.1.  However, in complete contrast, his Championship percentage is whopping 49.5.  It would be fair to say that we have found his level (Ed: though Villa sacked him in The Championship and never looked back).

Jumping back to this season though, Steve has only managed a win percentage of 26.3, which is down on both his PL career, and Newcastle United career.  As we are halfway through the season, and our form has been poor of late, I wanted to look back, statistically, at Bruce’s relegation seasons to see what could be in store, statistically speaking of course.

Let us begin with Birmingham City.  I wrote a piece earlier this week about the 2005/6 season.  Portsmouth changed their manager mid-season and ate away an eight point gap between them and safety.  Pompey stayed up, eventually 4 points ahead of Bruce’s Birmingham City.  Did Bruce throw it away, or did he perform in line with his career statistics?

In the last 19 games of that season it looked like this;W5 D6 L8 – 21 points and a win percentage of 26.3.  Brum were relegated on 34 points – so the damage was done in the first half of the season with only 3 wins and 13 points (WP 15.7).

At Hull, the last 19 games finished W5 D4 L10 – 19 points and a win percentage of 26.3.  Hull were relegated on 35 points – again the damage was done in the first half of the season.  Just like Birmingham, they only managed 3 wins in the first half of the season.

These two seasons are very similar.  21 points and 19 points. Roughly, the same number of wins and draws.  Unfortunately, for Birmingham and Hull, this was not enough to save them due the shocking first half season performances.  The reason I looked at these two relegation seasons was to see if we could see anything that would compare to our season.

If, and it is a gigantic ‘if’ based on performances, Bruce can replicate these statistics for our last 19 games, we ‘should’ be OK on 38 points.  That would mean Fulham needing 27 points from their remaining 20 games and West Brom requiring 28 from 18.However, as Pompey proved in 2005/6 it is not impossible.

So far, I have only looked at part of the story.  We are currently on a terrible run of form, eight PL games without a win.  I wondered whether Bruce had managed anything similar at Hull or Birmingham.  At Hull, Bruce managed a streak of 5 games without a win, that’s not too bad.  However, he managed to go on three of those streaks in the same season – the last of which were the last five games of the season and Hull sunk like a stone, dropping from fifteenth to eighteenth place and went down. Careless.

At Birmingham, in the 2005/6 season, Steve pulled off an eight game winless streak plus a five game run too.  Special.

Back to Bruce’s Newcastle United.  Last season we finished the season with a six game winless streak, which to be honest are still burning my eyes.  We are currently nine without a win, with half of the season still ahead of us.  Oh, joy.

Since December 22nd 2019 we have only won nine games of Premier League football. Nine games in 13 months.

What does any of this mean?  Can we read anything in to it?  Well, as Mark Twain famously once said, “There are three types of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics”. In some respects, this is true; we can manipulate numbers to suit any narrative.  I believe that Bruce is doing a terrible job and I have looked at some numbers and arranged them in a way that helps me with that narrative.  There are plenty of numbers out there, I might even be able to build a narrative around how we will go on at twelve game winning streak and we will be pushing for Europa League spot.  If someone can point me to those numbers, I will give it a crack, but as it stands, I cannot find them.

For me though it is not all about statistics.  Any sound reasoning has to come from more than just picking a few numbers to help you tell a particular story.  We must look for other sources to build a picture, and in this case, it has been watching Newcastle United managed by Steve Bruce.

Therefore, I will finish off with this quote from the noted French poet and socialist, Charles Peguy; “We must always tell what we see. Above all, and this is more difficult, we must always see what we see .”Let’s face it, we can all see what we see and it is difficult. Very difficult.

TIM WOOD – @WoodyLad8